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Political Tinker


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AT: The Blue-Apron Statesman; The Pewterer (Who Would Be) a PoliticianA: Ludvig Holberg Pf: 1722, Copenhagen Pb: 1723 Tr: 1885 G: Com. in 5 acts; Danish prose S: Von Bremen's home and environs, Hamburg, early 18th c. C: 10m, 4f, extrasHermann von Bremen, a respectable pewterer in Hamburg, decides to take up politics. He abandons his trade to devote himself to reading political books without understanding. He rejects the wheelwright Anton as a fitting suitor for his daughter Engelke, seeking instead a son-in-law who has studied politics. Every day he hosts a meeting of Hamburg tradesmen, the ‘Collegium Politicum’, who debate the state of the German nation. Two young men decide to cure him of his passion for politics by disguising themselves as officials and offering him the post of mayor. At first, he and his wife are thrilled at this elevation, but, as ‘official’ papers mount around him, he is driven to such desperation that he even contemplates suicide. He is so relieved to learn that the whole thing has been a joke that he abandons his political ambitions and gives his blessing to his daughter's marriage to Anton.

AT: The Blue-Apron Statesman; The Pewterer (Who Would Be) a PoliticianA: Ludvig Holberg Pf: 1722, Copenhagen Pb: 1723 Tr: 1885 G: Com. in 5 acts; Danish prose S: Von Bremen's home and environs, Hamburg, early 18th c. C: 10m, 4f, extras

By ridiculing the vices of an extreme comic type, the first native Danish comedy clearly owes much to Molière. But Holberg injects into the French model an authentic northern European setting, and by establishing a testing situation for his comic figures, creates a comedy which raises significant social questions. Indeed, the satirical elements of the play almost led to its banning. However, the immediate popularity of the piece (many of the first-night audience were forced to remain in the yard outside the theatre) launched both a native Danish theatre and the playwriting career of Holberg, who wrote a further 25 comedies in the following five years.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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